19 July 2014

When Yorkshire wore Yellow

Time goes quickly in Blog-World. I was almost ready to post my report on the recent triumphant visit of The Tour de France to Yorkshire, when one humdinger of a thunderstorm fried the router and also my trusty PC. Why do these things happen at the weekend? Anyway, by the time it was all fixed, Le Tour de Yorkshire had become a distant memory for most people who don't follow it avidly. (Keep on pedalling all the way to Paris, Nibali!)

Well, briefly, what a party it was! But not for us - well not exactly, although I am so pleased it went so well for Yorkshire. You see, we have a camper van and nothing is better designed for watching the Tour in France, Belgium, Italy or any other European country it passes through - except, not in the UK. What we had planned to do to park by the side of the road at least a day or so beforehand, finding the perfect spot on an uphill section where the riders are not whizzing past in a huge peleton at 40 mph.


You can sit in comfort if you want to, enjoy a cup of tea  or even champagne and strawberries and be sheltered if the weather does its worst. (Fortunately, it behaved impeccably and only rained when it got to London - so please excuse my little northern snigger.)

So we planned several suitable places by using maps, Street View and the detailed route plan of the first day's stage. In France etc, it seems you can park more or less anywhere in the countryside as long as you don't block the road. And certainly lay-bys are fine and picnic areas. You can see them in droves on TV's TdeF coverage. But not, here. All lay-bys had been  roped off and signs everywhere warned you not to park except at designated 'pop-up' camp-sites with big screens or in town squares. Otherwise you would be towed away. Of course, you could catch a designated bus from approved stops and then walk 2 or 3 miles or more to a place where you could stand in huge crowds, if you were lucky - and many were. Plus if you so happened to live in a town or village on the route, well bingo!. Now, walking to a suitable vantage point would be absolutely fine, if you're able to climb up steep hills either on foot or on your your bike  with a rucksack containing enough food and drink to last several hours and you could find a handy portaloo. (Have you ever used one of those when it's been used for more than an hour?) Since my stroke, I'm still a little wobbly on my legs. A non-starter for me.

But with a trusty camper-van, everything would have been hunky-dory. As we have a tank of fresh water, our own loo, a shower etc. And although there is no mains electricity away from a camp-site, we can use our gas-heater, cooker and kettle. Perfect.

We were sunk. We have roughed it in our youth - at pop festivals etc, but now we prefer  some comfort - not to mention independence. Why watch the tour on a big screen in a crowd when you can watch in comfort at home?

Okay, moan over. At least we were able to enjoy the Tour de France atmosphere and be proud to be (adopted) Yorkshire folk. And didn't we do well?

Now time and the tour have moved on and we are now making plans to return to our beloved French Pyrenees in 2015. We used to take our old caravan every August when our boys were small and we had a fabulous time. Next year we can travel in our van earlier in the year without having to worry about school and work holidays. The Tour always goes somewhere in that area (as well as the Alps) every year so we will plan our vantage point when we have information out the exact route.

Vive La France and their liberal approach to camper-van parking!

PS. For anyone who is still interested, I am still revising my novel in progress. It's amazing what you can do in  a camper-van. I can even see the light at the end of the tunnel. As long as it's not the Channel Tunnel and a TGF coming the other way.

1 comment:

  1. I noticed on the TdF coverage there were no cars or campers in Yorkshire, but a shedload of bikes. Sorry you weren't able to get out and see it in your own county, but lots and lots of people did, and didn't Yorkshire do well as a host county!
    We couldn't go and see it either - hubby recovering from broken hip and wrist after, yes, a fall off his bike. At least he was able to watch it nonstop on TV which I think has aided recovery.